If you are a tea lover, you know how important it is to get the right tea. Imagine having something that has been blended and put together by the local tea lover themselves from the herbs they collect from their backyard. Wild Island Tea produces small batches of loose-leaf tea, using locally and sustainably foraged herbs and botanicals.
Tell us about your business and how did it start?
My name is Dale Clarke. I am originally from Nova Scotia, but I have lived in Newfoundland for the last five years. Before starting Wild Island Tea, I had worked manly in Mental Health and Community Rehabilitation for about 15 years.
Wild Island Tea started as a hobby in 2017, making my tea and herbal blends for my own enjoyment. By 2018, it had turned into a bit of a side hustle, and now it has become a full-time endeavor.
I had always had an interest in plants and herbs and all the benefits they can provide, so blending teas and tisanes seems natural. There is so much variety of wild plants here in Newfoundland, it was easy to get into. It is literally in your backyard!
How have things changed for you during the Pandemic?
I am currently a home-based business, operating mainly online and doing direct sales and marketing. I am the only employee managing all aspects of my business, from foraging ingredients to accounting. Being a relatively new business, there is not much funding available to expand as quickly as I would like.
However, I think having a hand in everything, in the beginning, will allow me to figure out better where any gaps in skills may be and where to get the most use out of my money further down the road in terms of hiring employees. Both Futurpreneur Canada and CBDC have been instrumental in helping me achieve my business goals.
How are you managing to drive sales now, and how has the community helped in these tough times?
Most of our sales are generated through our website, www.wildislandtea.ca, wholesale customers, and direct sales at markets and fairs. Covid-19 has negatively impacted wholesale operations as business owners are understandably hesitant to prefer large quantities of perishable products when things can change so quickly.
Fortunately, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are quite generous in spirit, and the community stepped to support local businesses during the initial lockdowns. What we lost in wholesale we more than made up on the retail side of things. 80% of that support is local, so thanks, Newfoundland!
What would you say is the biggest challenge you have faced these days?
The biggest challenge I am facing as an entrepreneur right now is developing my market outside the local area. Travel restrictions have made it challenging to attend trade shows and markets outside my province. As well, many of the larger national and international shows have been postponed or cancelled.
Despite the many challenges, I absolutely love what I do. If I had any advice for other entrepreneurs, it would be to stick with it. We all feel like we do not know what we are doing at times. That feeling will pass. Also, get out and talk to people even if you struggle with it. People want to know about whom they are buying from; they want to know your story.
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Author: Ravleen Bali, Content Writer for Onside Media, Canada. If you have any stories or comments to share, kindly email: –[email protected]